New Hungarian sensation Kovacs gets second gold
SEVILLE, Spain (AP) _ Sixteen-year-old Agnes Kovacs, the latest Hungarian swimming sensation, won her second gold medal Friday in the European Championships with the second-fastest time in the world this year in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Coached by Lazlo Kiss _ who also guided the now-retired Krisztina Egerszegi _ Kovacs was timed in 1 minute, 8.02 seconds.
Kovacs, who won the 200 earlier at the championships and missed tying the world record by only .14 seconds in that race, was the bronze medalist at 200 at the 1996 Olympics.
The 100 _ because of poor starts and turns _ is considered the weakest of her two races. But it didn’t look that way Friday. In the morning prelims, she swam 1:08.22 _ which was the world’s No. 2 time until she went even faster in the final.
The top time this season in 1:07.61 by Australian Samantha Riley.
``In this meet, I expected to do well in the 200, but I didn’t know how I’d do in the 100,″ Kovacs said. ``But it was nice to win gold twice and hear the national hymn twice.″
Kovacs belongs to the same Spartacus club in suburban Budapest where Egerszegi _ an Olympic gold medalist in the backstroke and individual medley _ trained.
Kiss said Kovacs has added a new wrinkle to the breaststroke technique.
``She uses the swimming over the barrel method, but she’s added a new twist,″ he said. ``It’s partially the Hungarian school, but now she’s better at it than anyone else.″
Emiliano Brembilla of Italy, fourth in the Olympics, won the 400-meter freestyle in 3:45.96, the world’s fastest time this year. Silver went to another Italian, Massimiliano Rosolino, with bronze for Britain’s Paul Palmer _ who took silver at Atlanta.
Brembilla trailed Palmer after the first 100, but caught him on the second leg and was never seriously challenged.
Mette Jacobsen of Denmark repeated as women’s 100 butterfly champion, edging Martina Moravcova of Slovakia. Jacobsen was timed in 59.64, the best in Europe this year.
Alexander Goukov, the men’s 100 breaststroke champion, added the 200 title, winning in 2:13.90.
Russia won the men’s 400 relay in a European record (3:16.85). Alexander Popov, the world’s fastest sprinter who is coming back from being stabbed a year ago in a skirmish in Moscow, swam the leadoff leg and clocked 49.02, the top time in the world this year. He swam 49.09 Thursday to win the 100.
Ireland’s Michelle Smith, who has won gold in the 400 IM and 200 freestyle and silver in the 400 freestyle, withdrew Friday from Saturday’s 200 IM, citing fatigue and leaving only the 200 butterfly to swim Sunday.
The withdrawal means she will not match the record of four individual golds in the championships set by former East German Ute Geweniger in 1981 and Egerszegi in 1993.